Previously on Throne of Glass, our heroine assures us she’s a badass beyond compare with zero redeeming qualities. Surly Chaol of Westfall, poorly chosen Captain of the Royal Guard, escorts Celaena to the salt mine’s inexplicable throne room, where awaits the handsome Crown Prince of Adarlan.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold, it’s paraphrased snark.
Chaol, He of the Magically Face-Hiding Hood, tosses back said hood to reveal his “not excessively handsome,” but nevertheless “rather appealing” face. That’s . . . surprisingly great, actually: a potential love interest who isn’t face-meltingly hot.
But Chaol’s tepid attractiveness throws Celaena’s “wretched dirtiness” into contrast, causing some angst—because she (despite being a slave working herself to death in a salt mine) should always expect to be the cleanest and most attractive person in the room.
After a scuffle with Clearly Evil (due to his bulk and red face) Duke Perrington in which Celaena is forced to bow to the prince (who observes this with “glorious boredom,” what the hell does that even mean), we learn that everyone knows “she has no love for [the royal] family.”
- Inhumanly badass (allegedly)
- Casually arrogant
- 99% fearless
- Pale and beautiful
- Hates the Adarlan royal family
The scuffle left a Celaena-shaped stain of grime on the marble, which either is or isn’t super embarrassing:
But she’d been trained to be an assassin since the age of eight, since the day the King of the Assassins found her half-dead on the banks of a frozen river and brought her to his keep. She wouldn’t be humiliated by anything, least of all being dirty.
Hold on. There’s a King of the Assassins?
How does that even happen? If it’s a sect similar to the original Assassins, sure, having a unified group of capital-A Assassins works. But if these are your standard murderers for hire, then I ask you: seriously?
- How many assassins are there, that they have a King?
- Are there other ranks (Duke of Stabbery, Viscountess of Impalen) too?
- Is this a hereditary gig?
- What exactly does a King of the Assassins do?
- How’d he get his keep (which is a nobleman’s fortified residence, found within a castle)?
- Why does the regular King of Adarlan let him have the keep (and the castle it presumably exists within)?
- And good god why is this guy collecting half-dead orphans to raise as assassins?
But the crown prince, Dorian Havilliard, is doing the Smoldering Hot Crown Prince thing, so let’s move on.
He was achingly handsome, and couldn’t have been older than twenty.
Princes are not supposed to be handsome! They’re sniveling, stupid, repulsive creatures! This one . . . this . . . How unfair of him to be royal and beautiful.
Someone tell this darling child that “prince” is an inherited rank that has nothing to do with appearance or personality. Meanwhile, I’ll be adding “painfully dumb” to her list of traits.
Unprincely-Hot Prince Dorian points out that he’d asked Chaol “to clean her” before allowing her into his godly presence, which gives Celaena another chance to reassure the reader that she really is gorgeous, she swears:
She looked at her rags and stained skin, and she couldn’t suppress the twinge of shame. What a miserable state for a girl of former beauty!
What happened to not being humiliated by anything, least of all being dirty?
As if hearing my eyes rolling, Celaena backtracks: she’s really quite average, if you ignore her show-stopping gold hair and her hypnotic blue-gray-green eyes with their glorious gold rings around the pupils. It was an arsenal of cosmetics that bumped her up from average to “extraordinary.” Too late, Celaena; “vain” is going on your traits-list.
Prince Dorian introduces himself (“You should know my name; I’m gonna rule everything”), then kindly introduces Celaena to herself (“And you’re Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s greatest assassin. Perhaps the greatest assassin in all of Erilea.”) Just in case we missed the earlier memos that she’s a badass.
His Hotness and Her Assassinliness engage in a tepid battle of wits, in which he raises “his dark, well-groomed brows,” and she bats her eyelashes and “croon[s]” responses (I don’t think that word means what the author thinks it means). Prince Dorian seems amazed by her ability to answer his questions with bland sarcasm. Bland sarcasm is an impressive skill, I assure you.
They then discuss Celaena’s sole attempt to escape the mine, how close she came to succeeding, and how uniquely awesome she is for surviving. It’s, uh, quite an emotional moment for her. In the course of maybe two minutes, we see:
- “[a] slow, wicked smile spread across her lips,”
- her “smile faded as the memory struck her,”
- “[h]er eyes turned cold and hard,”
- she “seethed,”
- “[s]he closed her eyes and sighed dramatically,”
- and “[a] chill that had nothing to do with the temperature went through her.”
Responding to an event with a mixture of emotions is fine, but good lord, Celaena moves between extremes (wickedly smug, somber, stone-cold-bitch, furious, exasperated arrogance, and . . . whatever emotion gave her a chill. Horror?*) with a speed that gave me whiplash.
*Immediately before the chill, she says, “Your father ordered that I was to be kept alive for as long as possible—to endure the misery that Endovier gives in abundance.” Was it the King’s cruelty that gives her a chill? She’s an assassin; cruelty shouldn’t horrify her. Was it her life in the mines? The only thing we know about life in the mines is most slaves survive a month. Obviously, Celaena (who was to be “kept alive for as long as possible”) must’ve received special treatment to have survived a year—so what, precisely, was so horrifying about her experience that it gives her chills? I want to know.
Prince Dorian then does the fashion-adviser-walk-around (exclaiming over her stench, because he’s a gentleman as well as a prince), while Celaena plots his murder. At last he declares her appearance “[n]ot as awful as [he] expected.”
For the second time in as many chapters, Celaena and I are in agreement: this guy would be an easy kill.
But she restrains herself; it’d be a waste of a sexy prince, I guess, and oh my god he’s probably going to be a part of her impending Angsty YA Love Triangle, so she can’t off him in chapter two.
Prince Dorian then puts on his most mysterious smirk and steeples his fingers and says, “I have a proposition for you.”
Celaena savors one last murderous fantasy (do it, do it), but ultimately decides against it (noooo) because they clearly want her to perform some service; perhaps she’d manage to slip out of their grasp and “disappear into the mountains and live in solitude in the dark green of the wild, with a pine-needle carpet and a blanket of stars overhead.”
Uh, Celaena. Do you really think you’re cut out for a lifetime of wilderness survival? You can’t stop fussing that your beautiful body has been sullied by the grime of a year’s enslavement; it’ll be hard to find a decent manicurist in the forest, is all I’m saying.
But hey, at least it finally gives us something positive to add to our list: she dreams of freedom.
“I’m listening,” she tells him, thus ending the chapter with all three of them (sadly) still alive.
We’re told Celaena’s A Total Badass: 5
Celaena proves she’s A Total Badass: 0*
Celaena fantasizes about murder: 5
Celaena murders someone: 0
Chaol’s surly teen-boy rage: 2
Dorian’s a dick: 4
*I might give Celaena a point for killing twenty-four people during her run for freedom—but we get no details, so this might not have been very impressive after all. Also, the King had ordered that she be kept alive for as long as possible, so presumably the sentries were hesitant to use real force when trying to stop and subdue her. I bet they’d be executed (possibly in horrible ways) if she accidentally died. If the King hadn’t ordered she be kept alive, she probably wouldn’t have gotten so close to escaping.
So far, I’m enjoying:
- The chapters are pretty short.
I’m not enjoying:
- this book.